On Saturday, Nov. 11, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park will host a number of special Veterans Day programs to honor and recognize all veterans.
The Veterans Day ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. inside the Hangar Building. During the ceremony, three veterans will be posthumously inducted into the Wall of Honor:
•Gasper Aronica, a native of Cheektowaga, who served in the U.S. Army as a specialist third class from 1954-57. He was a retired Deputy Sheriff for Erie County and a longtime volunteer for the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.
•Capt. William H. Sharp, a graduate of Kenmore East High School, entered the U.S. Air Force as a first lieutenant, advancing to captain, where he flew KC-13’s and Huey helicopters in Vietnam. After his military service, he worked in the banking industry and published a novel, “Summer Warriors,” which was inspired by his time at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod.
•Col. Michael K. Toellner enlisted as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps in January 1973 and worked his way through the enlisted ranks eventually to be a colonel, in August 2009, after serving honorably for 36 years and 8 months. He was assigned to numerous staff and counter-intelligence positions throughout his career. He attended the Defense Intelligence University in the postgraduate intelligence program and earned his Master of Science in strategic intelligence.
The Veterans Day ceremony will also feature guest speakers Chris Affuso and Ryan Jensen, who serve as volunteer coordinators of the PTF 17 Preservation Project. The Buffalo Naval Park’s docents will provide the color guard and George Miller will perform the national anthem.
“The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park proudly honors and recognizes veterans throughout the year, but we especially look forward to showing our appreciation on Veterans Day,” said Paul Marzello, president and CEO. “There is an incredible veteran community in Western New York, and we like to take advantage of every opportunity to recognize their service and welcome them to the Buffalo Naval & Military Park.”
Affuso and Jensen also serve as the 2024 “All Hands On Deck” co-chairs for the Buffalo Naval Park’s annual campaign – which will officially kick off at the Veterans Day ceremony with the unveiling of the 2024 “All Hands On Deck Challenge Coin.” Only 500 of these individually numbered challenge coins have been minted. This will be the fourth challenge coin in the “All Hands On Deck” series. Donations to the campaign directly support park operations, including personnel costs, ship maintenance, and general operating expenses during the year.
Learn more at www.BuffaloNavalPark.org/AllHandsOnDeck.
In addition to the morning ceremony, the Naval Park will also host a Hispanic American veterans ceremony at noon at the Western New York Hispanic American Veterans Memorial, located in the monuments garden. It is free and open to the public.
The Buffalo Naval & Military Park will offer free admission for all veterans on Saturday. In November, the Buffalo Naval & Military Park will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Nov. 19. The last ticket will be sold at 3 p.m.
More About Buffalo and Erie County Military & Naval Park
The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the nation’s largest inland naval park and the home of four U.S. Naval vessels: USS The Sullivans, USS Little Rock, USS Croaker and PTF-17. Located on Buffalo’s waterfront, this family destination is committed to its mission, which is to honor, educate, inspire and preserve. The Buffalo Naval & Military Park also features a museum, United States military exhibits, and a manicured veterans park with 15 monuments and memorials dedicated to those who served this country.
More information about the Buffalo Naval Park is available at www.BuffaloNavalPark.org.